The following are health and medical definitions of terms that appear in the warfarin, Coumadin article.
Acetaminophen: A nonaspirin pain reliever or analgesic. Acetaminophen may be given alone to relieve pain and inflammation or it may be combined with other drugs, as in some migraine medications, which contain acetaminophen, a barbiturate, and caffeine.
Anticoagulant: An agent that is used to prevent the formation of blood clots. Anticoagulants have various uses. Some are used for the prevention or treatment of disorders characterized by abnormal blood clots and emboli. Anticoagulant drugs include intravenous heparin, which acts by inactivating thrombin and several other clotting factors that are required for a clot to form, and oral anticoagulants such as warfarin and dicumarol, which act by inhibiting the liver's production of vitamin K'dependent factors that are crucial to clotting. Anticoagulant solutions are also used for the preservation of stored whole blood and blood fractions and to keep laboratory blood specimens from clotting.
Artery: A vessel that carries blood high in oxygen content away from the heart to the farthest reaches of the body. Since blood in arteries is usually full of oxygen, the hemoglobin in the red blood cells is oxygenated. The resultant form of hemoglobin (oxyhemoglobin) is what makes arterial blood look bright red.
Artificial heart: A human-made heart. An artificial heart is a mechanical pump that is used to replace a damaged heart temporarily or permanently.
Aspirin: Once the Bayer trademark for acetylsalicylic acid, now the common name for this anti-inflammatory pain reliever.
Atria: The plural of atrium.
Atrial: Pertaining to the atria, the upper chambers of the heart, as in atrial fibrillation and atrial septal defect.
Atrial fibrillation: An abnormal and irregular heart rhythm in which electrical signals are generated chaotically throughout the upper chambers (atria) of the heart. Many people with atrial fibrillation have no symptoms. Among those who do, the most common symptom is an uncomfortable awareness of the rapid and irregular heartbeat (palpitations). Atrial fibrillation can promote the formation of blood clots that travel from the heart to the brain, resulting in stroke. Treatment of atrial fibrillation involves risk-factor control, use of medications to slow the heart rate and/or convert the heart to
Back pain: Pain felt in the low or upper back. Causes of pain in the low and upper back include conditions affecting the bony spine; discs between the vertebrae; ligaments around the spine and discs; spinal inflammation; spinal cord and nerves; muscles; internal organs of the pelvis, chest, and abdomen; tumors; and the skin.
Blood clot: A mass of coagulated blood. A blood clot can block a major blood vessel, causing stroke or other problems.
Blood clots: Blood that has been converted from a liquid to a solid state. Also called a thrombus.
Brain: The portion of the central nervous system that is located within the skull. It functions as a primary receiver, organizer, and distributor of information for the body. It has a right half and a left half, each of which is called a hemisphere.
Chest: The area of the body located between the neck and the abdomen. The chest contains the lungs, the heart, and part of the aorta. The walls of the chest are supported by the dorsal vertebrae, the ribs, and the sternum. Also known as thorax.
Chest pain: Pain in the chest that can be a result of many things, including angina, heart attack (coronary occlusion), and other important diseases. Chest pain is a warning to seek medical attention, so one should try not to ignore chest pain and 'work through it.'
Cuts: Severed skin. Washing a cut or scrape with soap and water and keeping it clean and dry is all that is required to care for most wounds. Putting alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, and iodine into a wound can delay healing and should be avoided. Seek medical care immediately if you think that you might need stitches. Any delay can increase the rate of wound infection. Any puncture wound through shoes has some risk of infection and should be seen by your healthcare professional. Any redness, swelling, increased pain, or pus draining from the wound may indicate an infection that requires professional care.
Diarrhea: A common condition that involves unusually frequent and liquid bowel movements. The opposite of constipation. There are many infectious and noninfectious causes of diarrhea. Persistent diarrhea is both uncomfortable and dangerous to the health because it can indicate an underlying infection and may mean that the body is not able to absorb some nutrients due to a problem in the bowels. Treatment includes drinking plenty of fluids to prevent dehydration and taking over-the-counter remedies. People with diarrhea that persists for more than a couple days, particularly small children or elderly people, should seek medical attention.
Dysfunction: Difficult function or abnormal function.
Emboli: Something that travels through the bloodstream, lodges in a blood vessel and blocks it. Examples of emboli are a detached blood clot, a clump of bacteria, and foreign material such as air.
Embolism: The obstruction of a blood vessel by a foreign substance or a blood clot that travels through the bloodstream, lodging in a blood vessel, plugging the vessel. Foreign substances that can cause embolisms include air bubbles, amniotic fluid, globules of fat, clumps of bacteria, chemicals (such as talc), and drugs (mainly illegal ones). Blood clots are the most common causes of embolisms. A pulmonary embolus is a blood clot that has been carried through the blood into the pulmonary artery (the main blood vessel from the heart to the lung) or one of its branches, plugging that vessel within the lung.
Embolization: A treatment that clogs small blood vessels and blocks the flow of blood, such as to a tumor.
Gangrene: Tissue death due to loss of adequate blood supply. Sometimes bacteria invade such tissue and accelerate its decay. Dry gangrene is the death of tissue due to vascular insufficiency without bacterial invasion in which the tissue dies, loses sensation and simply dries up, blackens, and shrivels. Dry gangrene eventually requires amputation. Gas gangrene occurs when body tissue is invaded by bacteria that thrive in areas of low oxygen content. These bacteria are called anaerobic bacteria and include the Clostridium family of bacteria. The bacteria generate gas and pus; the tissues swells and can become painful. Wet gangrene requires urgent antibiotic treatment and sometimes surgical drainage.
Generic: 1. The chemical name of a drug. 2. A term referring to the chemical makeup of a drug rather than to the advertised brand name under which the drug may be sold. 3.A term referring to any drug marketed under its chemical name without advertising.
Hair loss: Hair loss is the thinning of hair on the scalp. The medical term for hair loss is alopecia. Alopecia can be temporary or permanent. The most common form of hair loss occurs gradually and is referred to as "androgenetic alopecia," meaning that a combination of hormones (androgens are male hormones) and heredity (genetics) is needed to develop the condition. Other types of hair loss include alopecia areata (patches of baldness that usually grow back), telogen effluvium (rapid shedding after childbirth, fever, or sudden weight loss); and traction alopecia (thinning from tight braids or ponytails).
Headache: A pain in the head with the pain being above the eyes or the ears, behind the head (occipital), or in the back of the upper neck. Headache, like chest pain or back ache, has many causes.
Heart: The muscle that pumps blood received from veins into arteries throughout the body. The heart is positioned in the chest behind the sternum (breastbone); in front of the trachea, esophagus, and aorta; and above the diaphragm. A normal heart is about the size of a closed fist and weighs about 298 grams or 10.5 ounces. It is cone-shaped, with the point of the cone pointing down to the left. Two-thirds of the heart lies in the left side of the chest, with the balance in the right side of the chest. The heart is composed of specialized cardiac muscle, and it is four-chambered, with a right atrium and ventricle, and an anatomically separate left atrium and ventricle. The blood flows from the systemic veins into the right atrium, thence to the right ventricle, from which it is pumped to the lungs and then returned into the left atrium, thence to the left ventricle, from which it is driven into the systemic arteries. The heart is thus functionally composed of two hearts: the right heart and the left heart. The right heart consists of the right atrium, which receives deoxygenated blood from the body, and the right ventricle, which pumps the deoxygenated blood to the lungs under low pressure; and the left heart, which consists of the left atrium, which receives oxygenated blood from the lung, and the left ventricle, which pumps the oxygenated blood out to the body under high pressure.
Jaundice: Yellow staining of the skin and sclerae (the whites of the eyes) by abnormally high blood levels of the bile pigment bilirubin. The yellowing extends to other tissues and body fluids. Jaundice was once called the "morbus regius" (the regal disease) in the belief that only the touch of a king could cure it.
Joint: The area where two bones are attached for the purpose of permitting body parts to move. A joint is usually formed of fibrous connective tissue and cartilage. Joints are grouped according to their type of motion: ball-and-socket joint; hinge joint; condyloid joint, which permits all forms of angular movement except axial rotation; pivot joint; gliding joint; or saddle joint. Joints can move in only four ways: gliding, in which one bony surface glides on another, without angular or rotatory movement; angular, a movement that occurs only between long bones, increasing or decreasing the angle between the bones; circumduction, which occurs in joints composed of the head of a bone and an articular cavity, with the long bone describing a series of circles and the whole forming a cone; and rotation, in which a bone moves about a central axis without moving from this axis. Also known as articulation and arthrosis.
Kidney: One of a pair of organs located in the right and left side of the abdomen. The kidneys remove waste products from the blood and produce urine. As blood flows through the kidneys, the kidneys filter waste products, chemicals, and unneeded water from the blood. Urine collects in the middle of each kidney, in an area called the renal pelvis. It then drains from the kidney through a long tube, the ureter, to the bladder, where it is stored until elimination. The kidneys also make substances that help control blood pressure and regulate the formation of red blood cells.
Knee: The knee is a joint which has three parts. The thigh bone (the femur) meets the large shin bone (the tibia) to form the main knee joint. This joint has an inner (medial) and an outer (lateral) compartment. The kneecap (the patella) joins the femur to form a third joint, called the patellofemoral joint. The patella protects the front of the knee joint.
Liver: The largest solid organ in the body, situated in the upper part of the abdomen on the right side. The liver has a multitude of important and complex functions, including to manufacture proteins, including albumin (to help maintain the volume of blood) and blood clotting factors; to synthesize, store, and process fats, including fatty acids (used for energy) and cholesterol; to metabolize and store carbohydrates (used as the source for the sugar in blood); to form and secrete bile that contains bile acids to aid in the intestinal absorption of fats and the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K; to eliminate, by metabolizing or secreting, the potentially harmful biochemical products produced by the body, such as bilirubin, from the breakdown of old red blood cells and ammonia from the breakdown of proteins; and to detoxify, by metabolizing and/or secreting, drugs, alcohol, and environmental toxins.
Lungs: The lungs are a pair of breathing organs located with the chest which remove carbon dioxide from and bring oxygen to the blood. There is a right and left lung.
Organ: A relatively independent part of the body that carries out one or more special functions. Examples of organs include the eyes, ears, heart, lungs, and liver.
Pain: An unpleasant sensation that can range from mild, localized discomfort to agony. Pain has both physical and emotional components. The physical part of pain results from nerve stimulation. Pain may be contained to a discrete area, as in an injury, or it can be more diffuse, as in disorders like fibromyalgia. Pain is mediated by specific nerve fibers that carry the pain impulses to the brain where their conscious appreciation may be modified by many factors.
Paralysis: Loss of voluntary movement (motor function). Paralysis that affects only one muscle or limb is partial paralysis, also known as palsy; paralysis of all muscles is total paralysis, as may occur in cases of botulism.
Pregnancy: The state of carrying a developing embryo or fetus within the female body. This condition can be indicated by positive results on an over-the-counter urine test, and confirmed through a blood test, ultrasound, detection of fetal heartbeat, or an X-ray. Pregnancy lasts for about nine months, measured from the date of the woman's last menstrual period (LMP). It is conventionally divided into three trimesters, each roughly three months long.
Pregnant: The state of carrying a developing fetus within the body.
Prescription: A physician's order for the preparation and administration of a drug or device for a patient. A prescription has several parts. They include the superscription or heading with the symbol "R" or "Rx", which stands for the word recipe (meaning, in Latin, to take); the inscription, which contains the names and quantities of the ingredients; the subscription or directions for compounding the drug; and the signature which is often preceded by the sign "s" standing for signa (Latin for mark), giving the directions to be marked on the container.
Pulmonary: Having to do with the lungs.
Pulmonary embolism: Sudden closure of a pulmonary artery or one of its branches, caused by a blood-borne clot or foreign material that plugs the vessel.
Rash: Breaking out (eruption) of the skin. A rash can be caused by an underlying medical condition, hormonal cycles, allergies, or contact with irritating substances. Treatment depends on the underlying cause of the rash. Medically, a rash is referred to as an exanthem.
Shock: In medicine, a critical condition that is brought on by a sudden drop in blood flow through the body. The circulatory system fails to maintain adequate blood flow, sharply curtailing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to vital organs. It also compromises the kidneys and so restricts the removal of wastes from the body. Shock can be due to a number of different mechanisms, including not enough blood volume and not enough output of blood by the heart. The signs and symptoms of shock include low blood pressure (hypotension); overbreathing (hyperventilation); a weak, rapid pulse; cold, clammy, grayish-bluish (cyanotic) skin; decreased urine flow (oliguria); and a sense of great anxiety and foreboding, confusion, and sometimes combativeness. Shock, which is a major medical emergency, is common after serious injury. Emergency care for shock involves keeping the patient warm, giving fluids by mouth or, if necessary, intravenously, and frequently the administration of drugs that act to improve cardiac and circulatory function.
Shortness of breath: Difficulty in breathing. Medically referred to as dyspnea. Shortness of breath can be caused by respiratory (breathing passages and lungs) or circulatory (heart and blood vessels) conditions and other conditions such as severe anemia or high fever. See also dyspnea.
Stomach: The digestive organ that is located in the upper abdomen, under the ribs. The upper part of the stomach connects to the esophagus, and the lower part leads into the small intestine. When food enters the stomach, muscles in the stomach wall create a rippling motion (peristalsis) that mixes and mashes the food. At the same time, juices made by glands in the lining of the stomach help digest the food. After about 3 hours, the food becomes a liquid and moves into the small intestine, where digestion continues.
Stroke: The sudden death of brain cells due to lack of oxygen, caused by blockage of blood flow or rupture of an artery to the brain. Sudden loss of speech, weakness, or paralysis of one side of the body can be symptoms. A suspected stroke can be confirmed by scanning the brain with special X-ray tests, such as CAT scans. The death rate and level of disability resulting from strokes can be dramatically reduced by immediate and appropriate medical care. Prevention involves minimizing risk factors, such as controlling high blood pressure and diabetes. Abbreviated CVA. Also known as cerebrovascular accident.
Synthesis: Putting together different entities to make a whole which is new and different. In biochemistry, synthesis refers specifically to the process of building compounds from more elementary substances by means of one or more chemical reactions.
Tylenol: See: Acetaminophen.
Urine: Liquid waste produced by the kidneys. Urine is a clear, transparent fluid that normally has an amber color. The average amount of urine excreted in 24 hours is between 5 to 8 cups or 40 and 60 ounces. Chemically, urine is mainly a watery solution of salt and substances called urea and uric acid. Normally, it contains about 960 parts water to 40 parts solid matter. Abnormally, it may contain sugar (in diabetes), albumin (a protein, as in some forms of kidney disease), bile pigments (as in jaundice), or abnormal quantities of one or another of its normal components.
Vessel: A tube in the body that carries fluids. Examples of vessels are blood vessels and lymph vessels.
Vital: Necessary to maintain life. For example, breathing is a vital function.
Vitamins: The word "vitamin" was coined in 1911 by the Warsaw-born biochemist Casimir Funk (1884-1967). At the Lister Institute in London, Funk isolated a substance that prevented nerve inflammation (neuritis) in chickens raised on a diet deficient in that substance. He named the substance "vitamine" because he believed it was necessary to life and it was a chemical amine. The "e" at the end was later removed when it was recognized that vitamins need not be amines.
Warfarin: An anticoagulant drug (brand names: Coumarin, Panwarfin, Sofarin) taken to prevent the blood from clotting and to treat blood clots and overly thick blood. Warfarin is also used to reduce the risk of clots causing strokes or heart attacks.
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